Diagnosing and Treating Craniosynostosis

A parent or other family member may be the first to notice a baby’s “weird head shape,” or a pediatrician may point out that an infant has an abnormally shaped head. Parents may notice some of the other symptoms of craniosynostosis. In many cases, a misshapen head is the result of a baby’s spending a lot of time on his or her back – that kind of “flat head” is called deformational plagiocephaly and typically resolves itself over time, but craniosynostosis usually does not.

The actual diagnosis is based primarily on physical exam. CT scans, MRI, ultrasound and/or X-ray imaging are usually not necessary, but they may be used to confirm a diagnosis. 

An infant or child with craniosynostosis should be evaluated by an expert craniofacial team consisting of a pediatric neurosurgeon and a craniofacial plastic surgeon. These experts will determine if treatment is necessary, and if it is they will recommend the best treatment plan.  (See Doctors Who Treat Craniosynostosis.)

Surgery is the only effective form of correcting craniosynostosis. The surgical approach depends on which suture is involved; some newer, minimally invasive endoscopic correction can be performed in children under 4 months of age, with follow-up use of a helmet to help in reshaping the head.  (See Surgery for Craniosynostosis.)

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What our Patients Say

In 1993, a young surgeon in Boston operated on a baby boy to repair the birth defect known as craniosynostosis. The baby is now a young man in Seattle, and the surgeon is now Chair of Neurological Surgery and Neurosurgeon-in-Chief of NewYork-...
At age nine months, John “Win” Melvin loved swings, dropping things into buckets, and bathtime!  Lovingly referred to as Win (short for his middle name, Winifred, a family name), the little boy kept his parents, Rory and Mimi, hopping – and they...
Kennedy Lynne McConnell was only a few days old when her mother, Heather, a pharmacist from Long Island, noticed a bony ridge behind the baby’s right ear. She also noticed what appeared to be a flat spot on the right side of Kennedy’s head, and a...
To Sara Finne and her husband Ron Cornwall, everything about their newborn son was adorable — even his slightly misshapen head. Little Harry had chubby cheeks and protruding forehead, but was otherwise healthy and normal. Sara planned to ask her...
Leo had always been cutie pie, but once his craniosynostosis had been corrected he had "a perfect round Charlie Brown head." For Pam and Steven Schwadron, the hours following the birth of their son Leo were a blur. After an emergency C-section, the...

Our Care Team

  • Victor and Tara Menezes Clinical Scholar in Neuroscience
  • Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery in Pediatrics
Phone: 212-746-2363
  • Vice Chair, Neurological Surgery
  • Director, Pediatric Neurological Surgery
Phone: 212-746-2363
  • Plastic Surgeon
Phone: (212) 305-5868

Reviewed by: Caitlin Hoffman, M.D.
Last reviewed/last updated: June 2023

Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787